Yoga As A Spiritual Practice

A Yoga Life

Yoga is a spiritual practice that dates back thousands of years. This practice is for beginners and all levels of physical ability but is not just a physical practice. Yoga is a path, a lifestyle. The benefits far outreach anything you could imagine. Doctors, physical therapists, movement specialists are all beginning to recommend Yoga to their clients and patients. People all over the world are being healed physically by Yoga. I do not ignore the spiritual benefits. When confusion and anxiety run high – yoga offers a path to love, vibrancy, and peace. In Sanskrit, there are many words for peace. For most of us living in the United States, Yoga translates into movement of our bodies, stretching, doing poses. Today, I would like to talk about how Yoga is much more than that.

Yoga

Let’s begin with Yoga. Yoga is an ancient spiritual path https://www.ananda.org/meditation/meditation-support/articles/what-is-yoga/. It incorporates; meditation, breath focus, guidelines for behavior, chanting, cleansing techniques, the study of scripture, devotion, mudra, and some movement. If you say that you are teaching “yoga,” and all you are doing is teaching some physical postures – then the wholeness of this practice is being misrepresented. There is nothing wrong with only teaching the movement aspect of Yoga (Asana), but we should all be saying that we are Asana Teachers, not teachers of Yoga.

Embodiment

Embodiment is another word that is being used quite often lately and can hold an array of meanings depending on the context from which it arises. I teach “Embodied Anatomy,” which I learned from my teacher Bonnie Bainbridge Cohen https://www.bodymindcentering.com/about/. In her school, it represents a style of learning anatomy and movement from the inside of our experience. You do not just study the bones from a book. You go directly into your bones, tracing them, touching the different layers, manipulating them, meditating on them, and creating a direct relationship to the bones within you. We do this with many of the systems and structures within your body, including Nervous System, Endocrine System, Fascia and Connective Tissue, Muscles, Bones, Fluids, Cells. When creating an embodied experience with your structures – the learning is direct and personal. Not only do you understand the shape, function, purpose for each structure, you have an intimate relationship, and knowledge of your very own.

Developmental Movement

Developmental Movement (Patterns) is the third topic I would like to discuss https://babiesproject.org/developmental-movement/. In the beginning, these words were coined mostly from the world of dance and teachers of dance and movement. I use these words to describe the study and experience of the embryological stages a fetus goes through from the moment of conception until the 2nd year of life. These are defined stages of growth and development that happen when we are forming in our mother’s womb. It encompasses the forming of a human form when we create our spine, our bones, our nervous system, lymph system, our arms and legs, brain and heart development, and all of the structures that create a wholly formed baby. When we study this progression of development and the levels of movement that arise out of each stage, we can directly understand and influence the relationship with our current movement patterns and choices. We use this knowledge and experience to repattern any habits, injuries, or patterns that we have adopted over the years. 

I teach the spiritual aspect of Yoga https://atyogalife.com/teacher-trainings/. I use ancient texts and teachings as well as Embodied Anatomy and Developmental Movement. When deciding who to study with – educate yourself. Learn who the teacher is, what they are teaching, their knowledge base, and how they teach. You will find the teacher that most resonates with your heart. I wish you all the best.

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